WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Hemp Industries Association (HIA), a non-profit trade association consisting of hundreds of hemp businesses, has released final estimates of the size of the 2012 U.S. retail market for hemp products. Data from market research supporting the estimates shows that retail sales of hemp food and body care products in the United States continue to set records in 2012, reaching $156 million. Sales of popular hemp items like non-dairy milk, shelled seed, soaps and lotions have occurred against the backdrop of increasing grassroots pressure to allow hemp to be grown domestically once again for U.S. processors and manufacturers. The HIA has also reviewed sales of clothing, auto parts, building materials and various other products, and it estimates the total retail value of hemp products sold in the U.S. in 2012 to be at least $500 million.
The sales data on hemp foods and body care, collected by market research firm SPINS, was obtained from natural and conventional food retailers, excluding Whole Foods Market and certain other key establishments, who do not provide sales data – and thus it underestimates actual sales by a factor of at least three. According to the SPINS data, combined U.S. hemp food and body care sales grew in the sampled stores by 16.5%, or $7.38 million, over the previous year ending December 23, 2011 to a total of just over $52 million. According to SPINS figures, sales in conventional retailers grew by 14.1% in 2012, while sales in natural retailers grew by 18.0%.
“The HIA is confident that the total U.S. hemp food and body care market in 2012 accounted for at least $156 million in retail sales,” says David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which uses hemp oil in its top-selling products. “The market is poised and ready for American hemp farmers and manufacturers, and the federal government needs to finally legalize this valuable crop, so we can take advantage of its economic opportunities.”
Due to significant sales from certain retailers excluded from the SPINS data, such as The Body Shop, Whole Foods Market and restaurants in general, as well as the fact that many unreported leading mass-market brands of suntan lotion and sunscreen include hemp oil, the HIA estimates the total retail value of hemp food, supplement and body care sales in the U.S. to be in the range of $156-$171 million for 2012.
“The HIA estimates the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the U.S. to be at least $500 million for 2012,” says Eric Steenstra, Executive Director of the HIA. “As the hemp market grows and Canadian farmers increase their hemp acreage to meet demand, U.S. farmers’ frustration at being shut out of the lucrative worldwide hemp market is catalyzing real movement throughout all levels of government to legalize industrial hemp,” continues Steenstra.
This month, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013 (H.R. 525) was introduced in the House with twenty-eight original co-sponsors, and it was quickly joined by a companion bill in the Senate (S. 359) which was introduced by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), underscoring the bipartisan support around the hemp issue. If passed, the bills would remove federal restrictions on the domestic cultivation of industrial hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis. The full text of the bills, as well as status and co-sponsors, can be found at: http://www.VoteHemp.com/legislation.
“Introducing this bill [S. 359] is the first step towards a common sense policy on hemp that helps create American jobs,” says Senator Wyden. “It is vital that all advocates for industrial hemp redouble their efforts to win support in Congress, if we are going to reestablish this economically important crop.”
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Vote Hemp is a national non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and a free market for industrial hemp and to changes in current law to allow U.S. farmers to once again grow hemp commercially.